Inverse surface salinity gradients were measured in two small Danish embayments. Three possible mechanisms are taken into account. In Knebel Vig the circulation and salinity distribution can be generated by tidal modification of the stratification at the entrance which is maintained by external dynamics rather than by fresh water discharged into the embayment. In Egens Vig the involved mechanisms can be coastal upwelling and difference in heating between shallow waters near the coast and deeper waters in the central part of the embayment.